“It took some trial and error,” Aaron continues. “I asked the advice of other stylists, and I went online to learn about porosity, texture and curl patterns. But mostly I listened to my clients, learning what had and hadn’t worked for them. Even though I had a strong background in cutting, I’d approached cutting from a perspective of precision, so I had to readjust my thinking.”
It took Aaron three years to develop the expertise, and by then she had so many curly clients that she could specialize. Now when clients ask for a blowout or flatironing, she refers them to other stylists in the salon.
Umbrell has enjoyed exploring natural textures of all kinds ever since training in the Vidal Sassoon method.
“I found that I agreed with the Sassoon philosophy of working with what the client naturally has,” Umbrell says. “It’s rare that you see Sassoon instructors pull out any kind of iron; they don’t even use round brushes. They’re all about giving someone an awesome cut for her natural texture.” Through advocating this approach and wearing her own curl in a natural style, Umbrell found herself attracting a large curly clientele and now thinks of herself as a curl expert while still enjoying all types of hair.
“I’m an artist and love the diversity,” says Umbrell.
A’Kiyia Kelly also entered the specialty through a preference for natural texture. “There was no dramatic turning point,” says Kelly, who’s been doing hair for 20 years and now has A’Kiyia’s Natural Twist & Hair Braiding in Kennesaw, Georgia. “I got tired of experiencing breakage from too many perms, too much heat. I educated myself about braiding and other natural styles, improving my skills by practicing on myself and my mom, talking to other stylists and watching styling videos.”
Abdallah didn’t find the curly-hair specialty as much as the specialty found her—through retail. She’d been doing hair for 20 years when a salesperson wanted her to try a line of products targeted to curlies.
“We put them on the shelf,” she recalls, “and all of a sudden clients started asking whether we were now doing naturally curly hair!” The timing was right. She and her stylists invested in training, and now the majority of the salon’s clients ask for a natural texture look.
McConnell was drawn to curly hair because she and the salon’s owner both wanted to embrace her own texture. Eight years ago they took a class and, with their sharpened skills, their curly clients started looking better and that attracted more curly clients.